Greedy Web gets lazy too

This idea might be going somewhere — I don’t know. But Danny O’Brien, at least, wrote back as if he thought it had some merit:

Pay me $50, and I’ll do it. Seriously: it’s a great idea, and while similiar things have been tried in the past (notable Brian Behlendorf’s SourceXchange and some others), I think whittling it down to its basics and being a very minimalist middle man might mean that it’ll work this time. Also the fact that a) everyone’s desperate for money these days and b) realised that they’re never going to code up everything they want in life, means that it’s got a better chance now than before.
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4 Responses to Greedy Web gets lazy too

  1. Rupert says:

    It is a good idea, although I do wonder if you’ll get enough subscribers per idea to make it worthwhile. Only one way to find out, of course.

    Something else that hasn’t happened — or if it has, I haven’t noticed — is any sort of self-education groundswell for new programmers. Let’s say I’m a reasonably technical Windows user that’s at the same stage as someone who used to write complicated DOS batch files (I’m not sure what the Windows equivalent is). I download Open Office, and want to add — oh, why not — a running word count.

    Where do I start? Where do I go on the Web to start to become someone who can hack source? I did it for myself in the days of 8 bit micros, but… it’s a lot harder now.

    You know the old saying: light a fire for a man, and he’s warm for an evening. Set a man on fire, and he’s warm for the rest of his life.


  2. Andrew says:

    Hang on … In the days of 8 bit micros, there was no web. On the other hand, what you were trying to learn was possible to learn. YOu have to remember that hacking on the sources of something the size of OOo or MOzilla is simply impossible, except for profesisonal programmers, and they are the only people who do it. These projects would die tomorrow were it not for the 100 or so salaried dvelopers working for Sun or AOL. Actually,I don’t know how many people AOL now employ on Mozilla; but Sun have around 100 full-time employees working on Star/Open office, and all the volunteer efforts goes into either obscure ports, or replacing the commercial bits of Star Office.

    There is in fact now a great deal of documentation for OOo, if you are either already a Java programmer, or a C++ one. There are mailing lists for stumbling users.

    But the real problem is, I think, that the Windows equivalent of someone who wrote Dos batch files doesn’t write any code at all: it’s all fooing around with visual front ends, or possibly writing spreadsheets. So there is no easy way into this.

  3. Rupert says:

    But should there be an easy way? It was great fun in the Z80 days – you wrote a three line basic program, and it did something. So you wrote a ten line program that did something more. After a while, you worked out that if you poked stuff onto the screen it was a lot faster…

    Now, you go “Hm. Java. Lots of people like Java. I think I’ll write a noughts and crosses program, just to get a feel for it”. Can you? I just tried to be a newbie on the Sun website, and even before you’re allowed near a sharp object you have to traverse pages like this, . Any sane person will run for the pub at this point.

    Perhaps it has to be this way. Perhaps it really is too difficult to get there from here, these days. But I’m puzzled that nobody seems to think it important that the high priesthood is back in town, and the great experiment in getting a computer into everyone’s hands to program has finished.


  4. Andrew says:

    I think you’re looking in all the wrong places. In fact we both are. And Java is at exactly the wrong end of the spectrum. If you just want to learn a few fun tricks, the answer is to use Python, and to use all to com/ole stuff on Windows. That way, you really can write five line programs that do something useful, and, better, immediate.

    The silly IE page I put up last week which opens a stranger’s CD-rom drive — isn’t that the equivalent of your three line basic program that asks for a name and returns it?

    You can write a six line python program that will make thumbnails of all the gifs in a directory. Add another twenty or so lines, and it will have the ugliest graphical front-end in history.

    Using the interactive window in Python, you can open word documents, play all sorts of silly tricks on them, and then print them out, all with very simple commands.

    One of the bizarre ironies of the supposedly “community-led” OpenOffice is that it’s much much harder for amateurs to play around with than vile, corporate MS word. Of course, this has a lot to do with the way that Sun is trying to plug Java for everything. I’m sure it would be possible to make a Python wrapper around OO. In fact, someone’s trying that now. If they succeeeded, it really would be a step forward.

    IN fact here is the ugliest thumbnail maker in history: the point is that all the hard and dirty work is done in the libraries. Almost all the code is stolen from other examples and lightly modified. Anyone could do this with google.

    # a quick program to make thumbnails of all the
    # picture files in a directory. Uses PIL and wxPython
    import Image, os, os.path,sys
    from wxPython.wx import *
    # lift the dirpicker code from boxes
    class miniFrame(wxFrame):
    def __init__(self,parent,ID,title):
    wxFrame. __init__(self,parent,ID,title,wxDefaultPosition, wxSize(275,160))
    self.SetStatusText("Andrew's ugly thumbnail maker")
    self.label1=wxStaticText(self.panel,-1,"Choose a directory: all image files\n will be turned to thumbnails")
    self.butt2=wxButton(self.panel,-1,"Choose a Directory")
    self.butt1=wxButton(self.panel,-1,"Make all thumbs")
    EVT_BUTTON(self, self.butt1.GetId(), self.makeThumbs)
    EVT_BUTTON(self, self.butt2.GetId(), self.getADir)
    def getADir(self,event):
    # sets the directory to operate on
    self.dlg=wxDirDialog(self,"Choose a Directory",r'E:')
    if self.dlg.ShowModal() == wxID_OK:
    def makeThumbs(self,event):
    '''All th ework is done here and it's stolen from the PIL documentation anyway''
    for bigpix in os.listdir(os.curdir):
    if os.path.splitext(bigpix)[1]!='.db' and bigpix !=outfile:
    print "Made %s out of %s"  %(outfile,bigpix)
    except IOError:
    print "Couldn't make a thumbnail of", bigpix
    print "All done!"
    if __name__=='__main__':
    class myApp(wxApp):
    def OnInit(self):
    return true

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